A magpie is swooping my son as he walks to school. What can I do?

During the nesting season, normally 4-6 weeks, magpies will vigorously defend their territory and their chicks by swooping low and fast over passers-by, who they see as a threat to their young. This can be alarming, but it is usually only a warning. Take an alternative route if possible.

Otherwise, for protection, wear a helmet or a hat, or carry an open umbrella. Sunglasses placed on the back of the head are sometimes effective.

To protect children place an ice-cream container, or cardboard box, on their head, preferably with two big black eyes painted on the bottom. If you are riding a bicycle when the magpie swoops, dismount and walk it quickly through the area, wearing your bicycle helmet. You can also attach a tall red safety flag to you bicycle, or hold a stick or a branch above your head as a deterrent. Do not swing the stick around as this will antagonise the magpie.

Only occasionally will a bird actually attack and, if this happens, the local police or council ranger should be contacted.

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